Everyone experiences some type of embarrassment at the gym, like falling off a treadmill, dropping a dumbbell by accident or messing up the choreography in a group fitness class. But when working out makes you gassy, this faux pas stands out above them all.
Working Out Makes You Gassy
You've done it in yoga class, you've done it while running on the treadmill, you've done it getting those calories burned rebounding on a mini-trampoline — blown some "wind." You probably don't like this, but exercise and gas go hand in hand. Why? The following four reasons explain why you might experience a bout of flatulence when working out.
As someone who exercises regularly, your diet most likely includes complex carbohydrates and lots of fiber. But since these foods take more time to digest and keep you fuller longer than simple carbs, they are more likely to create gas, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
You might also have lactose intolerance and not know it. The U.S. National Library of Medicine says that about 65 percent of the population has a reduced ability to digest dairy after infancy. So, drinking milk or eating a cup of yogurt before exercise might hurt you.
Most of the gases in the digestive tract have no odors, but bacteria in your colon add sulfur to the mix, accounting for part of the noxious smell. Any food that smells unpleasant in the kitchen blends that same aroma into the gassy byproducts of digestion when you work out. Foods like asparagus, Brussels sprouts and broccoli make the problem more noticeable, says the NIDDK.
Read more: 10 Foods That Give You the Worst Gas
Furthermore, a heavy amount of the gas you vent comes from the air you swallow, according to the NIDDK. Eating or drinking rapidly, which is a common behavior among athletes, increases the amount of air you take in. Drinking from bottles, straws and drinking tubes (such as what is found in a hydration backpack) also causes more air ingestion, and any air swallowed must either exit through the mouth or the anus.
Vigorous endurance exercise can lead to stress on the gastrointestinal system. An August 2017 case study published in the _World Journal of Emergency Medicin_e indicates that 30 to 81 percent of runners experience gastrointestinal complaints, including abdominal cramps, bloating and bleeding.
Prevention of Flatulence When Exercising
Flatulence is an unfortunate part of exercise, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Luckily, you can take a few steps to cut your risk of embarrassment:
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Don't eat or drink too fast as it can disturb the digestive process, says the NIDDK.
- Avoid dairy products before you work out. Digestive supplements taken with problematic dairy foods can increase your digestive tolerance to dairy, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
- Chew your food thoroughly soaked with saliva, suggests an April 2016 review in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.
- Eat digestible foods, such as roasted chicken, low-fat soups and stewed foods, recommends the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.
- Cut down on gas-producing foods before exercise, including legumes, cruciferous vegetables, sugar alcohols and fatty or fried foods.
If the flatulence problem impedes your workout and causes pain, reach out to your physician. Severe flatulence may indicate an underlying digestive disorder or food intolerance.
Read more: 7 Signs Your Gut Is Out of Whack
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Symptoms & Causes of Gas in the Digestive Tract"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dehydration"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Lactose Intolerance"
- Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal: "Prevention and Treatment of Flatulence From a Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Genetics Home Reference: "Lactose Intolerance"
- World Journal of Emergency Medicine: "'Runs' from a Run: A Case of Exercise Induced Ischemic Colitis"